7,700 tons of aloha


POSTED: Friday, July 24, 2009

The family of Navy Lt. Shane Allen made a special, last-minute trip to Pearl Harbor to greet him as he and the rest of the crew of the USS Hawaii arrived at their new home port.

The $2.5 billion Virginia-class submarine is the first submarine to be named after the 50th state.

Azelene and Gregory Allen were joined by their daughter-in-law, Andrea, and their four grandchildren, including 4-month-old Eli, and nearly 50 wives and children of other crewmen on a boat that greeted the Hawaii after it entered the Pearl Harbor channel yesterday.

Although 9-year-old Skyler couldn't see his dad from the escort vessel, he waved and carried a large banner that said, “;Welcome. Lt. Allen,”; as the boat pulled alongside the sleek black 377-foot submarine.

Skyler said one of the first things he wanted to do with his dad was “;to challenge”; him to several rounds of the “;Mario Kart”; video game.

“;He's been gone since October,”; said Andrea Allen, noting that her husband joined the crew of the Hawaii as its navigator at Groton, Conn., where it was built.

Andrea Allen said her husband was home briefly in March when Eli was born.

After the Hawaii docked at Sierra 9 submarine pier, Lt. Allen said “;it was an emotional time”; being away from his family.

“;It's a tough job,”; said Allen, who has been in the Navy for eight years. “;I hate leaving them behind, but it's something I have to do to protect my family and my country.”;

His mother, Azelene Allen, added, “;I am really proud of him and the sacrifice he is making for freedom.”;





        The USS Hawaii is the first of three Virginia-class submarines that will be based at Pearl Harbor.

» Displacement: 7,700 tons
        » Length: 377 feet
        » Beam: 34 feet
        » Speed: In excess of 25 knots or 29 mph
        » Depth: In excess of 800 feet
        » Weapons: Tomahawk land-attack missiles, Mark 48 advanced-capacity torpedoes, advanced mobile mines, unmanned underwater vehicles





        There are now 16 Los Angeles-class submarines based at Pearl Harbor.

» Displacement: 6,082 tons
        » Length: 362 feet
        » Beam: 33 feet
        » Speed: In excess of 20 knots
        » Depth: In excess of 800 feet
        » Weapons: Tomahawk land-attack missiles, Mark 48 advanced-capacity torpedoes, advanced mobile mines, unmanned underwater vehicles




Gov. Linda Lingle, who as the sponsor of the submarine attended its keel laying ceremony in 2004, said at a reception honoring the sub and its 120-member crew that home-porting the warship at Pearl Harbor will mean an economic windfall of $17 million annually, keeping the highly trained maintenance workers at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard busy.

She presented Cmdr. Ed Herrington, Hawaii's skipper, with a Hawaii state flag that was flown by Charlie Company of the Army Reserve's 100th Battalion during convoy escort missions from Kuwait to northern Iraq in May. She also proclaimed yesterday as USS Hawaii Day.

Two other Virginia-class subs—the USS Texas and USS North Carolina—also will be stationed here. Rear Adm. Douglas McAneny, commander of the Pacific Fleet Submarine Force, hinted that a fourth Virginia-class sub, the USS California, which has been under construction since 2006, also might join the Pacific Fleet.

At a news conference following yesterday's arrival ceremony, Lingle noted that 60 percent of the Navy's submarines will be based in the Pacific by 2010.

The Navy has said that by the end of 2009, 31 of the U.S. Navy's 53 fast attack submarines will be in the Pacific, with 18 of those 31 home-ported in Pearl Harbor, two more than currently assigned.

There are now 16 Los Angeles-class submarines berthed at Pearl Harbor.

Herrington said pulling into Pearl Harbor was like “;the light at the end of tunnel”; since the 7,800-ton submarine left Groton, Conn., May 13. The Hawaii stopped briefly in Florida, where it conducted weapons testing, and then went to Kings Bay, Ga., to make its final preparations for the voyage to Hawaii.

Tom Fargo, a retired submarine skipper who also commanded both the Pacific Fleet and the Pacific Command, said the home-porting of the Hawaii “;shows clearly how important the Pacific and Asian (area) is to our future.”;